Eye on the Scene
Mark Chesnutt unplugged, the Cornbred Blues Band on the road, and Dinosaur Jr. opens The Valarium
I Donâ’t Mean Dallas A decade ago, Mark Chesnutt was nearing the end of a seven-year run at the top of the country charts. Last Thursday, he was playing a short-but-sweet acoustic set with a paltry $5 cover (and minimal promotion) for a small crowd on the dance floor at Cotton Eyed Joe in West Knoxville. Chesnutt was opening for Con Hunley and Joe Stampley at a benefit for former WIVK program director Les Acree; Chesnuttâ’s small band was spot-on, running through a basic line-up of his early hits, from â“Too Cold at Homeâ” through â“Goinâ’ Through the Big Dâ” and â“It Sure Is Monday.â” He skipped his signature hit, â“Bubba Shot the Jukebox,â” though, and didnâ’t bother with â“Friends in Low Places,â” which, itâ’s worth remembering, he recorded before Garth Brooks did. Stampley and Hunley took the show in an R&B direction after thatâ"Stampley fronted Hunleyâ’s band, and then Hunley nailed down fine versions of Ray Charlesâ’ â“Georgiaâ” and his own 1982 hit â“Oh Girlâ”â"but Chesnuttâ’s display of arena-sized talent in such an intimate setting stole the night. (Matthew Everett)
Cornbred Blues Travelers As usual, Jon Worley and the Cornbred Blues Band have been busy. As a group of barefoot folk musicians, this hillbilly-and-proud-of-it outfit doesnâ’t do much else other than play music. The bassist, Shaggy (who can be found most nights slinging beer at the Downtown Grill & Brewery on Gay Street), once played in Christopher Scumâ’s punk-rock act The Dirty Works. Not the usual gig for a self-described hippie.
A new Cornbred album thatâ’s yet to be named was recently mastered at Saff Studios in Chicago. One of Worleyâ’s former band mates, Joel Ziegenmier, of the now-defunct Gypsy Love and the Fire Gods, recorded the album at his studio in Murfreesboro. After leaving Gypsy Love, Ziegenmier enrolled at Middle Tennessee State Universityâ’s sound engineering program, where he was schooled in the finer arts of sound wizardry. And Worley sounds almost giddy when he talks about the time the Cornbred Blues Band spent in the studio.
â“It pops, man. All the horns pop,â” Worley says. â“My voice pops.... Iâ’m fully electric now. Cornbred is electric. I havenâ’t played an electric guitar in six years.â”
(With Worley, thereâ’s always a story to be told: â“My ex-wife made me pawn my electric guitar to pay the electric bill.â”)
At the studioâ"thanks to Ziegenmierâ’s collection of vintage equipmentâ"the band was able to play mad scientist with ancient electric gizmos, such as V-72s, circa 1935. â“We had to go to Radio Shack to buy plugs,â” Worley says, adding: â“We probably spent $300 recording it, and $200 mastering it.â”
But, wait, thereâ’s more. What began as a show in Asheville, N.C., turned into a full-throttle tour of the eastern seaboard. â“We blew it the fuck up,â” Worley says. â“I had a blast, not just on a personal, how-you-doing level, but the music.... It really opened my eyes. As shitty as the scene can be here in Knoxville, at least we got good musicians.â”
They busked in Baltimore before heading into New York City, where they played the Lit Lounge, the same stage where The Strokes were discovered. After scraping by and sleeping in a Wal-Mart in Jersey City, they finally made it back to East Tennessee with about $40 to spare. (Kevin Crowe)
Garage Sale Local bands Garage Deluxe and Old Union will host a benefit for 90.3 WUTK on Friday, Nov. 30. All proceeds from the suggested $6 donation cover charge and the $2 bottles of Red Hookâ"all night!â"will be donated to the University of Tennessee-sponsored station. Rumor has it that Chris Ford, former front man for local funksters Gran Torino, whoâ’s been way too busy with his Sweet P barbecue catering business to do much in the way of music lately, may make an appearance on stage. (M.E.)
Move It on Over The Dinosaur Jr. show originally scheduled for Blue Cats on Thursday, Nov. 29, has been moved to the Valarium in the old Electric Ballroom building on Western Avenue for what will now be the new clubâ’s grand opening. Free tickets for the show were still available at both Disc Exchange locations at press time. The reunited Dinosaur Jr., with original members J Mascis and Lou Barlow back together for the first time since 1989, is touring to support their new album Beyond. (M.E.)
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